Appeals court judges hammer lawyer representing Everglades Foundation

By Bruce Ritchie | 05/21/2024 04:28 PM EDT

The lawsuit filed by the Everglades Foundation has rocked Everglades supporters and revealed rifts over a $3.6 billion reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

Ron DeSantis speaks at a lectern.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) speaks during a news conference April 22, 2019, in Key Biscayne, Florida. At right is Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation. Lynne Sladky/AP

State appeals court judges on Tuesday challenged an Everglades Foundation lawyer for his role in the contempt of court trial for the group’s former chief scientist.

The background: Former Everglades scientist Tom Van Lent was sentenced to 10 days in jail for contempt by state Circuit Judge Carlos Lopez in Miami in December.

The conviction came in a lawsuit filed by the Everglades Foundation, which accused Van Lent of violating a settlement agreement by deleting foundation data on his laptop computer after he left the group in 2022. The foundation is a close ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Everglades issues.


Appeals court Judge Bronwyn Miller on Tuesday asked lawyer Jorge Piedra, representing the foundation, to explain how he could serve as prosecutor in the case when he had a duty to represent the foundation as his client, instead of the public interest more broadly.